Bringing a Therapy Dog to Elementary School

June 14, 2018
By Shari Feeny

When you walk down a hall in my school, you may encounter our therapy dog, Boomer. There were originally reservations in our district about having a therapy dog, but now Boomer is one of the most sought after staff members for his ability to enhance many components of social and emotional learning (SEL).

I’m in my 25th year in education, and I believe in the necessity of teaching social and emotional skills - they really do help students thrive academically.

I’ve seen Boomer stop a child’s tears in record time, help a school-phobic kindergartner walk into school with enthusiasm, reset an anxious student’s day, ease test-taking tension, and bring smiles and laughter to everyone he encounters...

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Recognizing and Alleviating Math Anxiety Among Elementary Students

June 14, 2018
By Gina Picha

Math anxiety is much more than a dislike for the subject - it’s a real problem for students, one that blocks the brain’s working memory and starts a self-perpetuating cycle of math avoidance, low achievement, and fear. This form of anxiety manifests as early as kindergarten, and nearly half of elementary school children experience it.

Signs and Symptoms

Avoidance: Math anxiety and math avoidance go hand in hand. Do you have students who seem to grasp at any reason to leave the classroom during math instruction? This could be more than just a student trying to get out of work. Students with high levels of math anxiety tend to avoid mathematics at all costs...

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Commentary
Want to Make School Great Again? Fund Arts Education.

June 14, 2018
By Richard A. Greenwald

The dollars don’t lie.

We live in an era that devalues the arts (fine, performing and music) in our schools.

Sure, we recognize the entertainment value of tv, film, music and live events, but - in gutting art education funding as supposedly frivolous - we have decided that art itself, as something to teach and pass on to the next generation, is worth less than a “real” education and the ever-present state tests and Common Core...

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CDE Launches Initiative to Expand Teaching World Languages

June 14, 2018

On May 30, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced, “Global California 2030,” a bold initiative to vastly expand the teaching and learning of world languages and the number of students proficient in more than one language over the next 12 years.

The initiative aims to better prepare California students for the 21st century economy, broaden their perspective and understanding of the world, and strengthen the diversity of backgrounds and languages that make California’s culture and economy vibrant and dynamic.

“The mission of Global California 2030 is to equip our students with the world language skills to succeed in the global economy and to fully engage with the diverse mixture of cultures and languages found in California and throughout the world,” Torlakson said. “We are setting high goals and dreaming big to help our students and our state.”...

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Safety Recommendations for Hot Weather Summer Training by Student Athletes

June 1, 2018
(The following article was written by the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) for EdCal, published by the Association of California School Administrators.)

Today, more than 90 percent of California high schools begin their fall semester in August. Athletic practices are occurring all summer and fall when it can be hot and humid in many parts of California. Exertional Heat Stroke (EHS) is preventable, but there are still tragic occurrences each year of “near-misses” with emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

According to the Center for Disease Control, heat illness during practice or competition is the leading preventable cause of death among U.S. high school athletes. With our wide and diverse climate zones from cool coastal beaches to mountains, valleys and deserts, it is imperative that education and training of administrators, coaches, parents and students play a vital role in this preventable illness. Assembly Bill 2800 would authorize heat illness training to be fulfilled through entities offering free online or other types of training courses. The California Interscholastic Federation, through the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), offers a free online class that would fulfill this new proposed requirement. Upon successfully passing the class, the coaches are issued a certificate and added to a statewide data base that allows for school and school district verification of completion, identical to the free CIF NFHS Concussion program...

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“OMG this is WRONG!”
Retired English Teacher Marks Basic Grammatical Mistakes in White House Letter, Mails It Back

June 1, 2018

A teacher in Georgia responded the only way she knew how after receiving a letter from President Donald Trump filled with grammar mistakes: covering the paper with ink and yellow highlighted corrections.

Yvonne Mason, a teacher now living in Atlanta (who taught in Greenville, South Carolina for 17 years) took a picture of a letter Trump sent her regarding school safety and gun violence and posted it on Facebook -- marking it up as if it were a student's work. (See link below.)...

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The Case for Holding Students Accountable
Extrinsic Motivation Gets Kids to Work Harder, Learn More

June 1, 2018
By Adam Tyner and Michael J. Petrilli, Education Next

Sometimes it seems as if we’ve tried everything in our efforts to reform public education, yet nothing has worked to boost student achievement at scale. And despite all of our reform attempts, we have ignored one of the most promising catalysts for student success.

What is this magical, elusive factor?

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Study Finds Learning a Second Language Benefits Integrated Use of Sight and Hearing to Make Sense of Speech

By Erin Karter May 18, 2018

Learning a second language can change the way our senses work together to interpret speech, according to a new Northwestern University study.

In the study, published during April in the journal Brain Sciences, researchers found that bilingual people are better at integrating sight and hearing to make sense of speech...   

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Public Comment Period Open for New Health Education Framework

May 3, 2018

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on May 1 that the public comment period is now open for the Health Education Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. It presents an approach to health education that focuses on students learning skills and practicing behaviors that will lead to a lifetime of good health.

“Students who are healthy do better in school, attend more days of classes and are ready to learn,” said Torlakson. “This new framework is another example of how California is leading the way for comprehensive health education for all students.”...

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Ideas for Assessing Reading Skills of Young Dual Language Learners

May 3, 2018

By Janie T. Carnock, New America Foundation

Inadequate data on young dual language learners (DLLs) hampers efforts to support these children in early care and education (ECE). This blog series has explored gaps that exist in tracking the enrollment of DLLs and rating the quality of services for these learners. Finally, as this post will address, there is also a lack of meaningful assessment data to validly capture the full range of DLLs’ development in ECE.

Age-appropriate testing of students’ proficiencies can serve many purposes in ECE, including formative assessment for instruction, screening for special needs, or program-wide research or evaluations. State policy leaders are increasingly focused on student outcomes through more standardized assessment data, collected and aggregated at the systems level, to inform decision-making and the allocation of ECE resources...  

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Report: Lax Diploma Requirements Leave Many High School Graduates Ill-Prepared for College and Career

May 3, 2018

Millions of students each year are graduating from America’s high schools unready to enter the workforce or continue their studies in pursuit of a postsecondary credential. A new report from the Center for American Progress, released on April 2, finds that lax state high school graduation requirements are in part responsible for this glut of ill-prepared students.

The report examines how states are doing in preparing their students for admission to their local public university system and if state graduation requirements are preparing students with a high school diploma to meet key college- and career-readiness benchmarks. The report also includes six policy recommendations to narrow preparation gaps...

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GAO Report Shows Students of Color Suffer Harsher Discipline for Lesser Offenses

April 21, 2018

Congressmen Bobby Scott, ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Jerrold Nadler, ranking member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, have released the Government Accountability Office report “Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities.”

Both Congressmen requested that the GAO investigate disparities in discipline policies and practices applied to students of color, boys and students with disabilities.

“The Government Accountability Office has conducted first-of-its-kind analysis of national data which dispels claims that racially disproportionate rates of discipline are based solely on income. The analysis shows that students of color suffer harsher discipline for lesser offenses than their white peers and that racial bias is a driver of discipline disparities,” Scott said. “This report underscores the need to combat these gross disparities by strengthening, not rescinding, the 2014 Discipline Guidance Package, which recommends specific strategies to reduce the disparities without jeopardizing school safety.”...

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Researcher Makes a Case for Bringing Mobile Devices into the Classroom, Rather than Banning Them

April 7, 2018

What happens when a high school teacher decides to welcome cell phones into the classroom instead of banning them?

That was part of a yearlong experiment that Antero Garcia, now an assistant professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education(GSE), undertook several years ago while he was teaching ninth-grade English at South Central High School in Los Angeles.

Seeing how much his students relied on their smartphones to connect with each other, he began exploring ways to incorporate these and other devices into his teaching. He shares his experience in a new book, Good Reception: Teens, Teachers and Mobile Media in a Los Angeles High School...

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Commentary
Embrace Multilingual Education - Children Will Benefit

April 7, 2018

By Viorica Marian

By the end of 2018, Google Assistant will support more than 30 languages. This shows the importance the private sector places on multilingual communication. Unfortunately, the U.S. education system lags behind in reflecting the value of a multilingual society.

Fifty years after the walkout by Latino students in Los Angeles protesting the lack of bilingual education, dual language learning remains inaccessible to many American children. This is despite the fact that one in four children in the U.S. speaks Spanish, a number that continues to grow

At the same time, 80 percent of adults in a nationwide survey agreed that children in the United States should learn a second language fluently before they finish high school...

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New Survey of Secondary Teachers Reveals Many Feel Unprepared to Teach their EL Students, and Lack Resources

April 7, 2018

In their recently released study, published on April 3, researchers Lucrecia Santibañez of Claremont Graduate University and Patricia Gándara of the UCLA Civil Rights Project, analyze data from a survey distributed among secondary teachers in a large urban school district  in order to examine how well prepared the teachers feel to teach English Learners. According to the report’s abstract:

“Across the nation, nearly all teachers can expect to have English Learner students in their classrooms. The challenges of teaching English Learners are particularly acute in the nation’s secondary schools. There is evidence suggesting that the preparation to teachers ELs is generally weak for all school levels, but more so for secondary school teachers...

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Survey: Educators Overwhelmingly Reject Arming Teachers, Support Commonsense Solutions to Reduce Gun Violence in Schools

March 23, 2018

Educators overwhelmingly reject proposals to arm teachers and other school personnel, according to a new poll commissioned by the National Education Association. NEA members support a range of commonsense solutions to address the issue of school shootings in the United States, but arming teachers is not one of them. NEA surveyed 1000 members nationwide from March 1 – 5, 2018.

The new NEA national member survey comes on the heels of a proposal by the Trump administration to arm teachers. Trump has appointed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to lead a Federal Commission on School Safety to study the issue...

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Nearly 150 Civil Rights and Education Groups to DeVos: Leave Discipline Guidance in Place

March 23, 2018

On March 22, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 145 local, state, and national civil and human rights and education groups sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos opposing any changes to or rescission of the 2014 school discipline guidance developed and released jointly by the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice.

The letter comes after DeVos’ testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee where members of Congress questioned her commitment to the civil rights of children of color. The guidance describes schools’ obligations under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to administer discipline in a nondiscriminatory manner...

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CDE Issues Guidance on Possible Student Walkouts

March 9, 2018

(Editor’s note: On March 2, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued the following guidance regarding possible student walkouts in response to recent school shooting incidents.)

School shootings are devastating for victims, survivors, and communities and increase fear for students, parents, and educators throughout the nation. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on February 14, 2018, as well as all victims of school shootings.

Some students may wish to show solidarity with the Florida victims by planning and taking part in walkouts on March 14, 2018. I applaud these students’ empathy and civic engagement and support the right of all students to exercise their First Amendment rights...

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“Teacher Stress is at an All-Time High... Stress Interferes with Quality Instruction in Several Ways”

March 9, 2018

(Editor’s note: Gun control, mental health, violence prevention, and the Second Amendment surged to the front lines of passionate national debate about what can or should happen in response to the Florida school massacre that left 17 dead. Patricia Jennings is an associate professor with the University of Virginia (UVA)’s Curry School of Education. She is an expert with extensive research on the effects of stress on teachers. In the following interview, Jennings answers questions from UVA Today writer Jane Kelly regarding teachers, stress at school and arming educators.)

Q. What does your research reveal about the level of stress in the teaching profession? 

A. Teacher stress is at an all-time high. Nearly 50 percent of teachers report high daily stress during the school year. This stress is caused by dwindling school budgets that impact their resources and salaries, growing numbers of students coming to school with challenging educational and behavioral problems, demanding parents and unsupportive administrations. On top of this, measures that apply untested and questionable accountability measures and reduce teacher autonomy and instructional creativity have resulted in dramatic reductions in job satisfaction and an increase in teacher burnout and turnover...

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PPIC: School Districts Face Challenges Implementing New K-12 Science Standards

March 9, 2018

Successful implementation of the state’s new K-12 science standards will likely call for revised high school graduation requirements and a stronger science focus in the early grades, according to a new report released on March 7 by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

The report identifies major challenges districts have encountered since the introduction of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2013. It draws on a survey of unified and high school districts conducted at the end of the 2016-17 school year. It offers recommendations on how state and local policymakers can help districts implement California’s stronger science standards...

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CDE Announces New Social Emotional Learning Guidelines

February 24, 2018

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on February 20 that the California Department of Education (CDE) has released new guiding principles for teaching social and emotional skills, a tool to help educators ensure students have the skills they need for success in school, careers, and in the community.

“Educators know, and the science confirms that learning is not only cognitive, but also social and emotional,” said Torlakson. “These principles are a part of a concentrated effort to improve teaching and learning of social and emotional skills by recognizing that students’ connection to what they are learning is a critical component of a quality education.”

The planning team, consisting of 35 educators throughout California, was created in the fall of 2016 as part of the Collaborating States Initiative, a multi-state learning community convened by the Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning...

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U.S. Dept. of Education Launches New English Learner Website

February 10, 2018

On January 29, the U.S. Department of Education launched a new interactive web page dedicated to data on English Learner students (ELs). The site uses colorful maps, bar graphs and charts to provide a clearer understanding of America's diverse ELs population in a “data story” format based on data from the Common Core of Data (CCD).The data story shows nearly every state has at least one school district where the EL population has increased by more than 50% since the 2010 school year and answers three main questions - Who are ELs? Where are ELs? And what languages do ELs speak?

The Data Story Includes...

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New Report Concludes Rural Student Population Left “Out of the Loop” By Schools

January 29, 2018

Nearly 20 percent of the country’s students are enrolled in rural schools, yet are not provided the same focus in national policy or research as students in urban and suburban school districts. “Out of the Loop,” a new report from the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA), Center for Public Education (CPE), finds that poverty, isolation and inequities are exacerbated for rural students by the lack of attention to the unique needs of this considerable student population.

While not equally distributed across the country, CPE’s analysis notes, approximately one-half of school districts, one-third of schools, and one-fifth of all students in the United States are in rural areas. Inadequate funding, lower literacy rates, and less access to advanced courses such as AP and STEM classes impact rural students’ achievement, creating significant barriers to their success...

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Friends’ Genes May Help Friends Stay in School, New Stanford Research Study Finds

By Brooke Donald - Rep: January 29, 2018

A new study by Assistant Professor Ben Domingue of the Stanford Graduate School of Education finds that the DNA of your peers may influence your own educational attainment.

While there’s scientific evidence to suggest that your genes have something to do with how far you’ll go in school, new research by a team from Stanford and elsewhere says the DNA of your classmates also plays a role.

“We examined whether the genes of your peer groups influenced your height, weight or educational attainment. We didn’t find a correlation to height or weight, but did find a small one with how far you go in school,” says Ben Domingue, assistant professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education and first author of the new paper, published online Jan. 9 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences...

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Thoughtful Classroom Assignment Can Enhance Outcomes

New Research Shows Teachers’ Physical Proximity Boosts Collaboration with Colleagues

By Laura Jimenez - Rep: January 15, 2018

Innovative new schools across the country are experimenting with building designs to increase student learning and teacher collaboration. But the majority of instructors in the United States teach in a more traditional setting – the “egg crate” design, consisting of long hallways lined with self-contained classrooms. In a new article for Education Next, James Spillane of Northwestern University and Matthew Shirrell of George Washington University report that even within the limitations of traditional school building design, thoughtful classroom assignments can promote beneficial teacher interactions. Teachers are far more likely to speak with one another about their practice when they are assigned to nearby classrooms.

In each year from 2010 through 2013, Spillane and Shirrell surveyed all instructional staff from 14 elementary schools comprising one Midwestern suburban school district about their work-related interactions, school perceptions, and background information...

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